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‘Amour’ Star Emmanuelle Riva Dies: Oscar-Nominated Actress Was 89

The French actress passed away on Friday afternoon after suffering from a long illness.

Emmanuelle Riva

Yoan Valat/REX/Shutterstock

Emmanuelle Riva, French actress known for her role in “Amour,” died on Friday, January 27, in a Paris clinic from a long illness, her agent, Anne Alvarez Correa, told The Associated Press. She was 89.

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement, via The Hollywood Reporter, that Riva “deeply marked French cinema” and “created intense emotion in all the roles she played.”

With a career spanning 60 years, Riva received her first Oscar nomination in 2013 for her performance in Michael Haneke’s film “Amour,” about an older couple’s bond of love after one of them suffers a stroke. That same role earned her a BAFTA Award and the prestigious César Award in the Best Actress categories.

“I have always encountered captivating roles and characters. I have often been happy, and still am now, with this exceptional film which happened at the exact moment in my life when I could do it,” Riva told IndieWire back in 2013. “And how can one not be happy, being nominated for an Oscar?” The movie went on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film that year.

READ MORE: Oscar Watch: Emmanuelle Riva Talks Her Surprise Late-Life Role in ‘Amour’; French Veteran Could Beat Lawrence

Riva was born February 24, 1927 in Cheniménil, France. With hopes of becoming an actress, at the age of 26 she moved to Paris to pursue her dreams and began her career in theater. It wasn’t until 1957 when she made her onscreen acting debut in the TV series “Énigmes de l’histoire.” The actress then got her big break when she starred as Elle in Alain Resnais’ 1959 drama “Hiroshima mon amour,” a role for which she earned a BAFTA Award nomination in the Best Foreign Actress category.

Always interested in complex female characters, from there she appeared in over 85 projects including “Kapò” (1959), nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film from Italy, “Adua and her Friends” (1960), “Leon Morin, Priest” (1961), “Three Colours: Blue” (1993), “Venus Beauty Institute” (1999) and “The Great Alibi” (2008), among many others.

“I liked the roles I had both on the stage and in cinema,” she previously told IndieWire. “My preference is for both. Going from one role to the other is a healthy exercise; no time for them to leave any mark on us. It is others who leave a mark on us. And I don’t want to be a prisoner of any part, or to specialize in any genre. I don’t want to cultivate my image (how boring!). I would rather always feel the freshness of something newly born.”

Riva worked last year on the film “Alma,” which her agent said was still being filmed and edited and would be the last movie that would feature the actress. Her other movie, “Lost in Paris,” will be released in France on March 8.

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